Grants for Women Writers

Thomma Lyn Grindstaff
Girl applying for grant

It isn't easy to get a writing grant, but if you believe in yourself and your work and approach the task with determination, you could succeed in securing a helpful amount of money to aid you on the road to your writing dreams. Grants can motivate you while you're pursuing your artistic dreams and lessen your burden of worry about paying bills.

Barbara Deming Memorial Fund

Founded in 1975 by feminist and activist Barbara Deming as the Money for Women Fund, the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund describes itself as a "feminist granting agency" and awards grants of $500 to $1,500 to individual women writers and artists. The Barbara Deming Memorial Fund is interested in funding works-in-progress, and they want to see a sample of what you've written so far. The application period for the award runs from January 1 to January 31 of every year and submissions must be made via the website. You will need to upload:

  • 20 pages of your written project
  • 400-word description of your project
  • Your resume
  • 100-word statement of why you're applying to a feminist fund
  • $25 application fee, which you can pay via Paypal or credit card

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship

If you're a woman who writes horror fiction, you'll definitely want to check into the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Scholarship. This annual program is sponsored by the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and awards $2,500 to female horror writers. To apply for the award, you must be a member of the HWA. If you win, you must spend the money over the subsequent two years on writer education that's approved by the HWA. The application cycle opens on February 1 and closes on June 1.

Applications go live on the HWA site during a given year's application cycle. You'll need to click the link near the top of the HWA scholarship page that says "apply here." To access the online scholarship form, you will need to log in to HWA with your username and password. The judging committee looks at an author's body of published work and considers whether or not she has potential that would be aided by education to further her career.

Kentucky Foundation for Women

The Kentucky Foundation for Women (KFW) was founded to encourage and support feminist women in artistic endeavors that promote positive social change. Individuals and groups are eligible for two grants funded by the KFW, which together give away a total of $200,000 every year.

Two Available Grants

For either grant, your writing must be highly original and demonstrate a commitment to social change and feminism.

  • Artist Enrichment Grants provide opportunities for individual women or organizations of female artists to develop their artistic skills in a direction that encourages beneficial social change. These grants can help a woman writer build a solid body of work in which artistic principles work hand-in-hand with promoting social justice.
  • Arts Meets Activism Grants provide opportunities for individual women or organizations of female artists to engage people in their communities to create art that is directed toward positive social change that improves the lives of Kentucky residents. These grants can help women writers who desire to create art in a community context or in educational or enrichment settings.

While the grant amounts can range from $1,000 to $7,000, most Artist Enrichment awards fall between $2,000 and $4,000 and most Arts Meets Activism awards range from $3,000 to $5,000.

Application Process

You must apply for either grant through KFW's online system once the application goes live in late summer. The deadline for the Artist Enrichment Grant falls during the first week of September, and the deadline for the Arts Meets Activism Grant falls during the first week of March. To complete the application process, you will need to include several vital components.

  • Completed online application form
  • Description of your project activities and the impact you hope to make regarding social change and feminism
  • Detailed projected budget that describes what you expect to need for your project, such as funds to travel for interviews
  • Biographical statement in which you describe your artistic and activist credentials (publishing credits, educational and on-the-job experience, work for non-profits, etc.)
  • Two letters of recommendation from people who can describe your potential as a writer and artist and your commitment to feminism and social justice
  • Sample of your current work-in-progress, such as 15 to 20 pages of writing or ten to 12 poems, with an explanation of how you feel your work relates to promoting social change

National League of American Pen Women

Grant application Form

The first meeting of the National League of American Pen Women (NLAPW) took place in 1897 and the organization is still going strong today. The NLAPW offers the Shirley Holden Helberg Grant for Mature Women, which makes $1,000 available to women artists, musicians, and writers who are over 35 years old. The grant application has an October deadline each year.

To apply for the grant, women writers will need to download the application, complete it, and send it along with relevant materials via regular mail to the National Letters Chair, Dr. Evelyn Bethune, P. O. Box 2008, Daytona Beach, FL 32115.

With your application, you will need to include a $35 application fee and a sample of your work. You can submit a short story or article of no more than 2,500 words or the first chapter or first act of no more than 4,000 words of a current work in progress, whether a novel, non-fiction book, or play.

Diverse Writers Grant

If you write science fiction, fantasy, or horror, you will want to check out the Diverse Writers Grant, which is offered by the Speculative Literature Foundation (SLF). This $500 grant is available to writers from groups that are under-represented in the field, including women, writers of color, and LGBT, disabled, or working-class writers. The SLF wants the award to help in the completion of a work of fiction in progress. They prefer to assist writers of book-length works, whether novels or short story collections.

Grant applications are considered annually from May 1 to July 31. Recipients are announced on September 15. To apply for the grant, you must email diversity@speclit.org with a cover letter that includes your name, email, phone number, and a note that you're applying for the Diverse Writers Grant. You'll also need to attach relevant items for the grant jurors to consider:

  • 500-word description of your work-in-progress
  • Sample of writing from your work-in-progress (no more than 5,000 words)
  • Bibliography of your work that's been previously published, if applicable (writers who do not yet have publishing credits are welcome to apply)
  • A statement of your background and how it applies to diversity, whether you are a woman, a person of color, LGBT, disabled, or working-class

Leeway Foundation

If you're a woman who lives in the Delaware Valley Region, you'll want to look into the grants offered by the Leeway Foundation. They offer two grant programs to women and transgender writers and artists who reside in the Delaware Valley Region and create literature and art that transcends boundaries and seeks to enhance tolerance and promote positive social change.

Art and Change Grants

Art and Change Grants award up to $2,500 for projects expected to benefit the community. You also need to have what the Leeway Foundation calls a Change Partner, which is a business or organization that supports your project. Change Partners must complete a form and email it to info@leeway.org or send it by regular mail. You can either apply online or download a PDF of the grant application and send it via regular mail to the Leeway Foundation, The Philadelphia Building, 1315 Walnut Street, Suite 832, Philadelphia, PA 19107. The deadline is March 1.

Transformation Award

Transformation Awards are $15,000 grants that represent a strong commitment to a writer's unique vision and activist potential over the long term. Applications are divided into two stages. First, you must apply for Stage One, for which the deadline is May 15. If you're selected as a finalist, you may apply to Stage Two, for which you prepare work to be judged and participate in interviews. You can apply to Stage One online or download a PDF of the application and send it via regular mail to the Leeway Foundation, The Philadelphia Building, 1315 Walnut Street, Suite 832, Philadelphia, PA 19107.

Sustainable Arts Foundation

Female signing application

If you're a mother and you need help balancing the demands of raising a family with your writing goals, perhaps the Sustainable Arts Foundation can help. The foundation awards grants in amounts from $2,000 to $6,000 to women with families to help them in the pursuit of their creative dreams. They make awards in the spring and the fall. The foundation announces application windows and deadlines on its website, so be sure to check regularly if you're interested in applying for a grant.

To apply for an award from the Sustainable Arts Foundation, you'll need to apply online. Eligible applicants must have a child under the age of eighteen. Awards are given to women who write poetry, fiction, non-fiction, or plays, as well as women who create visual art. You'll need to supply a personal bio, an artist statement, a curriculum vitae, and a statement of how you wish to use the award to further your aspirations. Writers must send a 25-page sample of their work, and poets must send ten poems. Your work must be in PDF format.

Go On Girl! Book Club

If you're African-American, you might be eligible for an award from the Go On Girl! Book Club. The organization gives two $1,000 awards each year. You can apply for one or both programs if you are eligible. The award cycle opens in late October, with a deadline at the end of March.

Aspiring Literary Scholar Award

To be eligible for the Aspiring Literary Scholar Award, you must be a full-time freshman, sophomore, or junior at a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) and must have a minimum GPA (Grade Point Average) of 2.5. You'll need to submit an essay of 800 words or less on the subject of "The Power of the Written Word." You can apply for the Aspiring Literary Scholar Award via their online application form, with required documents attached.

Unpublished Writer Award

If you're an African-American woman writer with no publishing credits and you haven't self-published, you can apply for the Unpublished Writer Award. To do so, you'll need to use the online application form to which you must attach your contact information along with a 250-word personal bio, a description of your writing goals, and an original work of fiction, either a novel excerpt or a short story of no more than 2,000 words.

Persistence Pays Off

While writing isn't a lucrative field for many authors, some writers do eventually find large readerships and financial success. If you're serious about your writing, it may be helpful to seek a grant to ease financial pressure or to pursue educational opportunities. The opportunities listed here may be good options for you to start with. While there is no guarantee of receiving an award if you apply, you won't know unless you try. To achieve artistic goals, such as winning awards and grants, you need to have not only talent but plenty of persistence and a can-do attitude.

Grants for Women Writers